Rapeseed oil was ‘twice as expensive’ as sunflower oil, said Brown Bag Crisps director Phil Lamb

Suppliers’ desperate scramble to replace sunflower oil in their recipes risks sending prices even higher – especially with many of them turning to rapeseed oil, industry sources have warned.

With Ukraine and Russia accounting for a major portion of the world’s sunflower oil production, the lack of supply had “immediately transferred to other vegetable oil”, said one senior supplier source.

“Market forces have come into play and prices have skyrocketed. All seed and vegetable oils are now in tight supply. The price is whatever a buyer is prepared to pay.”

There would be a “huge knock-on effect in many manufactured products”, they added, such as margarine, which is a blend of vegetable oils, and mayonnaise, crisps and pesto (as The Grocer reported last week).

Brown Bag Crisps director Phil Lamb said his manufacturer was set to run out of sunflower oil this month and was securing stocks of rapeseed oil as a “temporary alternative”.

However in the case of rapeseed, it was “twice as expensive” as sunflower oil, he added.

While the switchover shouldn’t affect the taste or shelf-life of Brown Bag’s products, “we’ll have to put prices up” to mitigate the additional costs, he said. “It’s hard work being a snack supplier at the moment.”

It goes far further than crisps. Perkier MD Ann Perkins, too, said the business would switch from using sunflower oil to “more expensive” rapeseed oil in its snack bars as there was “no sunflower oil available”.

She stressed, however, this would “not lead to a price increase for Perkier as it is a small proportion of our ingredients”.

Another supplier source said they were “trialling rapeseed oil” but the taste was “definitely a little fishy” compared with sunflower.